Part 2 out of 12
Carol had given creative energy to dressing for the event.
Her hair was demure, low on her forehead with a parting and
a coiled braid. Now she wished that she had piled it high.
Her frock was an ingenue slip of lawn, with a wide gold sash
and a low square neck, which gave a suggestion of throat and
molded shoulders. But as they looked her over she was
certain that it was all wrong. She wished alternately that she
had worn a spinsterish high-necked dress, and that she had
dared to shock them with a violent brick-red scarf which she
had bought in Chicago.
She was led about the circle. Her voice mechanically
produced safe remarks:
"Oh, I'm sure I'm going to like it here ever so much," and
"Yes, we did have the best time in Colorado--mountains,"
and "Yes, I lived in St. Paul several years. Euclid P. Tinker?
No, I don't REMEMBER meeting him, but I'm pretty sure I've
heard of him."
Kennicott took her aside and whispered, "Now I'll introduce
you to them, one at a time."
"Tell me about them first."
"Well, the nice-looking couple over there are Harry Hay-
dock and his wife, Juanita. Harry's dad owns most of the
Bon Ton, but it's Harry who runs it and gives it the pep.
He's a hustler. Next to him is Dave Dyer the druggist--you
met him this afternoon--mighty good duck-shot. The tall
husk beyond him is Jack Elder--Jackson Elder--owns the
planing-mill, and the Minniemashie House, and quite a share
in the Farmers' National Bank. Him and his wife are good
sports--him and Sam and I go hunting together a lot. The
old cheese there is Luke Dawson, the richest man in town.
Next to him is Nat Hicks, the tailor."
"Really? A tailor?"
"Sure. Why not? Maybe we're slow, but we are democratic.
I go hunting with Nat same as I do with Jack Elder."
"I'm glad. I've never met a tailor socially. It must be
charming to meet one and not have to think about what you
owe him. And do you---- Would you go hunting with your
"No but---- No use running this democracy thing into the
ground. Besides, I've known Nat for years, and besides, he's
a mighty good shot and---- That's the way it is, see? Next
to Nat is Chet Dashaway. Great fellow for chinning. He'll
talk your arm off, about religion or politics or books or
Carol gazed with a polite approximation to interest at
Mr. Dashaway, a tan person with a wide mouth. "Oh, I
know! He's the furniture-store man!" She was much pleased
"Yump, and he's the undertaker. You'll like him. Come
shake hands with him."
"Oh no, no! He doesn't--he doesn't do the embalming
and all that--himself? I couldn't shake hands with an undertaker!"
"Why not? You'd be proud to shake hands with a great
surgeon, just after he'd been carving up people's bellies."
She sought to regain her afternoon's calm of maturity.
"Yes. You're right. I want--oh, my dear, do you know how
much I want to like the people you like? I want to see people
as they are."
"Well, don't forget to see people as other folks see them
as they are! They have the stuff. Did you know that Percy
Bresnahan came from here? Born and brought up here!"
"Yes--you know--president of the Velvet Motor Company
of Boston, Mass.--make the Velvet Twelve--biggest automobile
factory in New England."
"I think I've heard of him."
"Sure you have. Why, he's a millionaire several times over!
Well, Perce comes back here for the black-bass fishing almost
every summer, and he says if he could get away from business,
he'd rather live here than in Boston or New York or any of
those places. HE doesn't mind Chet's undertaking."
"Please! I'll--I'll like everybody! I'll be the community sunbeam!"
He led her to the Dawsons.
Luke Dawson, lender of money on mortgages, owner of
Northern cut-over land, was a hesitant man in unpressed
soft gray clothes, with bulging eyes in a milky face. His wife
had bleached cheeks, bleached hair, bleached voice, and a
bleached manner. She wore her expensive green frock, with
its passementeried bosom, bead tassels, and gaps between the
buttons down the back, as though she had bought it second-
hand and was afraid of meeting the former owner. They were
shy. It was "Professor" George Edwin Mott, superintendent
of schools, a Chinese mandarin turned brown, who held
Carol's hand and made her welcome.
When the Dawsons and Mr. Mott had stated that they were
"pleased to meet her," there seemed to be nothing else to say,
but the conversation went on automatically.
"Do you like Gopher Prairie?" whimpered Mrs. Dawson.
"Oh, I'm sure I'm going to be ever so happy."
"There's so many nice people." Mrs. Dawson looked to
Mr. Mott for social and intellectual aid. He lectured:
"There's a fine class of people. I don't like some of these
retired farmers who come here to spend their last days--
especially the Germans. They hate to pay school-taxes. They
hate to spend a cent. But the rest are a fine class of people.
Did you know that Percy Bresnahan came from here? Used
to go to school right at the old building!"
"I heard he did."
"Yes. He's a prince. He and I went fishing together, last
time he was here.
The Dawsons and Mr. Mott teetered upon weary feet, and
smiled at Carol with crystallized expressions. She went on:
"Tell me, Mr. Mott: Have you ever tried any experiments
with any of the new educational systems? The modern kindergarten
methods or the Gary system?"
"Oh. Those. Most of these would-be reformers are simply
notoriety-seekers. I believe in manual training, but Latin and
mathematics always will be the backbone of sound Americanism,
no matter what these faddists advocate--heaven knows
what they do want--knitting, I suppose, and classes in wiggling
The Dawsons smiled their appreciation of listening to a
savant. Carol waited till Kennicott should rescue her. The
rest of the party waited for the miracle of being amused.
Harry and Juanita Haydock, Rita Simons and Dr. Terry
Gould--the young smart set of Gopher Prairie. She was led
to them. Juanita Haydock flung at her in a high, cackling,
"Well, this is SO nice to have you here. We'll have some
good parties--dances and everything. You'll have to join the
Jolly Seventeen. We play bridge and we have a supper once
a month. You play, of course?"
"N-no, I don't."
"Really? In St. Paul?"
"I've always been such a book-worm."
"We'll have to teach you. Bridge is half the fun of life."
Juanita had become patronizing, and she glanced disrespectfully
at Carol's golden sash, which she had previously admired.
Harry Haydock said politely, "How do you think you're
going to like the old burg?"
"I'm sure I shall like it tremendously."
"Best people on earth here. Great hustlers, too. Course
I've had lots of chances to go live in Minneapolis, but we
like it here. Real he-town. Did you know that Percy Bresnahan
came from here?"
Carol perceived that she had been weakened in the biological
struggle by disclosing her lack of bridge. Roused to nervous
desire to regain her position she turned on Dr. Terry Gould,
the young and pool-playing competitor of her husband. Her
eyes coquetted with him while she gushed:
"I'll learn bridge. But what I really love most is the
outdoors. Can't we all get up a boating party, and fish, or
whatever you do, and have a picnic supper afterwards?"
"Now you're talking!" Dr. Gould affirmed. He looked
rather too obviously at the cream-smooth slope of her shoulder.
"Like fishing?. Fishing is my middle name. I'll teach you
bridge. Like cards at all?"
"I used to be rather good at bezique."
She knew that bezique was a game of cards--or a game of
something else. Roulette, possibly. But her lie was a triumph.
Juanita's handsome, high-colored, horsey face showed doubt.
Harry stroked his nose and said humbly, "Bezique? Used
to be great gambling game, wasn't it?"
While others drifted to her group, Carol snatched up the
conversation. She laughed and was frivolous and rather brittle.
She could not distinguish their eyes. They were a blurry
theater-audience before which she self-consciously enacted the
comedy of being the Clever Little Bride of Doc Kennicott:
"These-here celebrated Open Spaces, that's what I'm going
out for. I'll never read anything but the sporting-page again.
Will converted me on our Colorado trip. There were so
many mousey tourists who were afraid to get out of the motor
'bus that I decided to be Annie Oakley, the Wild Western
Wampire, and I bought oh! a vociferous skirt which revealed
my perfectly nice ankles to the Presbyterian glare of all the
Ioway schoolma'ams, and I leaped from peak to peak like the
nimble chamoys, and---- You may think that Herr Doctor
Kennicott is a Nimrod, but you ought to have seen me daring
him to strip to his B. V. D.'s and go swimming in an icy
She knew that they were thinking of becoming shocked, but
Juanita Haydock was admiring, at least. She swaggered on:
"I'm sure I'm going to ruin Will as a respectable
practitioner---- Is he a good doctor, Dr. Gould?"
Kennicott's rival gasped at this insult to professional ethics,
and he took an appreciable second before he recovered his
social manner. "I'll tell you, Mrs. Kennicott." He smiled
at Kennicott, to imply that whatever he might say in the
stress of being witty was not to count against him in the
commercio-medical warfare. "There's some people in town
that say the doc is a fair to middlin' diagnostician and
prescription-writer, but let me whisper this to you--but for
heaven's sake don't tell him I said so--don't you ever go to
him for anything more serious than a pendectomy of the left
ear or a strabismus of the cardiograph."
No one save Kennicott knew exactly what this meant, but
they laughed, and Sam Clark's party assumed a glittering
lemon-yellow color of brocade panels and champagne and tulle
and crystal chandeliers and sporting duchesses. Carol saw
that George Edwin Mott and the blanched Mr. and Mrs.
Dawson were not yet hypnotized. They looked as though they
wondered whether they ought to look as though they
disapproved. She concentrated on them:
"But I know whom I wouldn't have dared to go to Colorado
with! Mr. Dawson there! I'm sure he's a regular heart-
breaker. When we were introduced he held my hand and
squeezed it frightfully."
"Haw! Haw! Haw!" The entire company applauded. Mr.
Dawson was beatified. He had been called many things--
loan-shark, skinflint, tightwad, pussyfoot--but he had never
before been called a flirt.
"He is wicked, isn't he, Mrs. Dawson? Don't you have to
lock him up?"
"Oh no, but maybe I better," attempted Mrs. Dawson, a
tint on her pallid face.
For fifteen minutes Carol kept it up. She asserted that she
was going to stage a musical comedy, that she preferred cafe
parfait to beefsteak, that she hoped Dr. Kennicott would never
lose his ability to make love to charming women, and that
she had a pair of gold stockings. They gaped for more. But
she could not keep it up. She retired to a chair behind Sam
Clark's bulk. The smile-wrinkles solemnly flattened out in
the faces of all the other collaborators in having a party, and
again they stood about hoping but not expecting to be amused.
Carol listened. She discovered that conversation did not
exist in Gopher Prairie. Even at this affair, which brought
out the young smart set, the hunting squire set, the respectable
intellectual set, and the solid financial set, they sat up
with gaiety as with a corpse.
Juanita Haydock talked a good deal in her rattling voice
but it was invariably of personalities: the rumor that Raymie
Wutherspoon was going to send for a pair of patent leather
shoes with gray buttoned tops; the rheumatism of Champ
Perry; the state of Guy Pollock's grippe; and the dementia of
Jim Howland in painting his fence salmon-pink.
Sam Clark had been talking to Carol about motor cars,
but he felt his duties as host. While he droned, his brows
popped up and down. He interrupted himself, "Must stir
'em up." He worried at his wife, "Don't you think I better
stir 'em up?" He shouldered into the center of the room, and
"Let's have some stunts, folks."
"Yes, let's!" shrieked Juanita Haydock.
"Say, Dave, give us that stunt about the Norwegian catching
"You bet; that's a slick stunt; do that, Dave!" cheered
Mr. Dave Dyer obliged.
All the guests moved their lips in anticipation of being called
on for their own stunts.
"Ella, come on and recite `Old Sweetheart of Mine,' for
us," demanded Sam.
Miss Ella Stowbody, the spinster daughter of the Ionic bank,
scratched her dry palms and blushed. "Oh, you don't want
to hear that old thing again."
"Sure we do! You bet!" asserted Sam.
"My voice is in terrible shape tonight."
"Tut! Come on!"
Sam loudly explained to Carol, "Ella is our shark at
elocuting. She's had professional training. She studied singing and
oratory and dramatic art and shorthand for a year, in Milwaukee."
Miss Stowbody was reciting. As encore to "An Old Sweetheart
of Mine," she gave a peculiarly optimistic poem regarding
the value of smiles.
There were four other stunts: one Jewish, one Irish, one
juvenile, and Nat Hicks's parody of Mark Antony's funeral
During the winter Carol was to hear Dave Dyer's hen-
catching impersonation seven times, "An Old Sweetheart of
Mine" nine times, the Jewish story and the funeral oration
twice; but now she was ardent and, because she did so want
to be happy and simple-hearted, she was as disappointed as
the others when the stunts were finished, and the party
instantly sank back into coma.
They gave up trying to be festive; they began to talk
naturally, as they did at their shops and homes.
The men and women divided, as they had been tending to
do all evening. Carol was deserted by the men, left to a
group of matrons who steadily pattered of children, sickness,
and cooks--their own shop-talk. She was piqued. She re-
membered visions of herself as a smart married woman in a
drawing-room, fencing with clever men. Her dejection was
relieved by speculation as to what the men were discussing, in
the corner between the piano and the phonograph. Did they
rise from these housewifely personalities to a larger world
of abstractions and affairs?
She made her best curtsy to Mrs. Dawson; she twittered,
"I won't have my husband leaving me so soon! I'm going
over and pull the wretch's ears." She rose with a jeune fille
bow. She was self-absorbed and self-approving because she
had attained that quality of sentimentality. She proudly
dipped across the room and, to the interest and commendation
of all beholders, sat on the arm of Kennicott's chair.
He was gossiping with Sam Clark, Luke Dawson, Jackson
Elder of the planing-mill, Chet Dashaway, Dave Dyer, Harry
Haydock, and Ezra Stowbody, president of the Ionic bank.
Ezra Stowbody was a troglodyte. He had come to Gopher
Prairie in 1865. He was a distinguished bird of prey--
swooping thin nose, turtle mouth, thick brows, port-wine
cheeks, floss of white hair, contemptuous eyes. He was not
happy in the social changes of thirty years. Three decades
ago, Dr. Westlake, Julius Flickerbaugh the lawyer, Merriman
Peedy the Congregational pastor and himself had been the
arbiters. That was as it should be; the fine arts--medicine,
law, religion, and finance--recognized as aristocratic; four
Yankees democratically chatting with but ruling the Ohioans
and Illini and Swedes and Germans who had ventured to
follow them. But Westlake was old, almost retired; Julius
Flickerbaugh had lost much of his practice to livelier attorneys;
Reverend (not The Reverend) Peedy was dead; and nobody
was impressed in this rotten age of automobiles by the
"spanking grays" which Ezra still drove. The town was as
heterogeneous as Chicago. Norwegians and Germans owned stores.
The social leaders were common merchants. Selling nails was
considered as sacred as banking. These upstarts--the Clarks,
the Haydocks--had no dignity. They were sound and
conservative in politics, but they talked about motor cars and
pump-guns and heaven only knew what new-fangled fads. Mr.
Stowbody felt out of place with them. But his brick house
with the mansard roof was still the largest residence in town,
and he held his position as squire by occasionally appearing
among the younger men and reminding them by a wintry eye
that without the banker none of them could carry on their
As Carol defied decency by sitting down with the men, Mr.
Stowbody was piping to Mr. Dawson, "Say, Luke, when was't
Biggins first settled in Winnebago Township? Wa'n't it in
"Why no 'twa'n't!" Mr. Dawson was indignant. "He
come out from Vermont in 1867--no, wait, in 1868, it must
have been--and took a claim on the Rum River, quite a ways
"He did not!" roared Mr. Stowbody. "He settled first
in Blue Earth County, him and his father!"
("What's the point at issue?" Carol whispered to Kennicott.
("Whether this old duck Biggins had an English setter or
a Llewellyn. They've been arguing it all evening!")
Dave Dyer interrupted to give tidings, "D' tell you that
Clara Biggins was in town couple days ago? She bought a
hot-water bottle--expensive one, too--two dollars and thirty
"Yaaaaaah!" snarled Mr. Stowbody. "Course. She's just
like her grandad was. Never save a cent. Two dollars and
twenty--thirty, was it?--two dollars and thirty cents for a
hot-water bottle! Brick wrapped up in a flannel petticoat just
as good, anyway!"
"How's Ella's tonsils, Mr. Stowbody?" yawned Chet Dashaway.
While Mr. Stowbody gave a somatic and psychic study of
them, Carol reflected, "Are they really so terribly interested
in Ella's tonsils, or even in Ella's esophagus? I wonder if I
could get them away from personalities? Let's risk damnation
"There hasn't been much labor trouble around here, has
there, Mr. Stowbody?" she asked innocently.
"No, ma'am, thank God, we've been free from that, except
maybe with hired girls and farm-hands. Trouble enough with
these foreign farmers; if you don't watch these Swedes they
turn socialist or populist or some fool thing on you in a
minute. Of course, if they have loans you can make 'em
listen to reason. I just have 'em come into the bank for a
talk, and tell 'em a few things. I don't mind their being
democrats, so much, but I won't stand having socialists around.
But thank God, we ain't got the labor trouble they have in
these cities. Even Jack Elder here gets along pretty well, in
the planing-mill, don't you, Jack?"
"Yep. Sure. Don't need so many skilled workmen in my
place, and it's a lot of these cranky, wage-hogging, half-
baked skilled mechanics that start trouble--reading a lot of
this anarchist literature and union papers and all."
"Do you approve of union labor?" Carol inquired of Mr.
"Me? I should say not! It's like this: I don't mind
dealing with my men if they think they've got any grievances--
though Lord knows what's come over workmen, nowadays--
don't appreciate a good job. But still, if they come to me
honestly, as man to man, I'll talk things over with them.
But I'm not going to have any outsider, any of these walking
delegates, or whatever fancy names they call themselves now--
bunch of rich grafters, living on the ignorant workmen! Not
going to have any of those fellows butting in and telling ME
how to run MY business!"
Mr. Elder was growing more excited, more belligerent and
patriotic. "I stand for freedom and constitutional rights. If
any man don't like my shop, he can get up and git. Same way,
if I don't like him, he gits. And that's all there is to it. I
simply can't understand all these complications and hoop-te-
doodles and government reports and wage-scales and God
knows what all that these fellows are balling up the labor
situation with, when it's all perfectly simple. They like what
I pay 'em, or they get out. That's all there is to it!"
"What do you think of profit-sharing?" Carol ventured.
Mr. Elder thundered his answer, while the others nodded,
solemnly and in tune, like a shop-window of flexible toys,
comic mandarins and judges and ducks and clowns, set quivering
by a breeze from the open door:
"All this profit-sharing and welfare work and insurance and
old-age pension is simply poppycock. Enfeebles a workman's
independence--and wastes a lot of honest profit. The half-
baked thinker that isn't dry behind the ears yet, and these
suffragettes and God knows what all buttinskis there are that
are trying to tell a business man how to run his business, and
some of these college professors are just about as bad, the
whole kit and bilin' of 'em are nothing in God's world but
socialism in disguise! And it's my bounden duty as a pro-
ducer to resist every attack on the integrity of American
industry to the last ditch. Yes--SIR!"
Mr. Elder wiped his brow.
Dave Dyer added, "Sure! You bet! What they ought to
do is simply to hang every one of these agitators, and that
would settle the whole thing right off. Don't you think so,
"You bet," agreed Kennicott.
The conversation was at last relieved of the plague of Carol's
intrusions and they settled down to the question of whether
the justice of the peace had sent that hobo drunk to jail for
ten days or twelve. It was a matter not readily determined.
Then Dave Dyer communicated his carefree adventures on the
"Yep. I get good time out of the flivver. 'Bout a week
ago I motored down to New Wurttemberg. That's forty-
three---- No, let's see: It's seventeen miles to Belldale, and
'bout six and three-quarters, call it seven, to Torgenquist, and
it's a good nineteen miles from there to New Wurttemberg--
seventeen and seven and nineteen, that makes, uh, let me see:
seventeen and seven 's twenty-four, plus nineteen, well say
plus twenty, that makes forty-four, well anyway, say about
forty-three or -four miles from here to New Wurttemberg. We
got started about seven-fifteen, prob'ly seven-twenty, because
I had to stop and fill the radiator, and we ran along, just keeping
up a good steady gait----"
Mr. Dyer did finally, for reasons and purposes admitted and
justified, attain to New Wurttemberg.
Once--only once--the presence of the alien Carol was
recognized. Chet Dashaway leaned over and said asthmatically,
"Say, uh, have you been reading this serial `Two Out' in
Tingling Tales? Corking yarn! Gosh, the fellow that wrote
it certainly can sling baseball slang!"
The others tried to look literary. Harry Haydock offered,
"Juanita is a great hand for reading high-class stuff, like
`Mid the Magnolias' by this Sara Hetwiggin Butts, and
`Riders of Ranch Reckless.' Books. But me," he glanced
about importantly, as one convinced that no other hero had
ever been in so strange a plight, "I'm so darn busy I don't
have much time to read."
"I never read anything I can't check against," said Sam Clark.
Thus ended the literary portion of the conversation, and
for seven minutes Jackson Elder outlined reasons for believing
that the pike-fishing was better on the west shore of Lake
Minniemashie than on the east--though it was indeed quite
true that on the east shore Nat Hicks had caught a pike
The talk went on. It did go on! Their voices were
monotonous, thick, emphatic. They were harshly pompous, like
men in the smoking-compartments of Pullman cars. They did
not bore Carol. They frightened her. She panted, "They
will be cordial to me, because my man belongs to their tribe.
God help me if I were an outsider!"
Smiling as changelessly as an ivory figurine she sat quiescent,
avoiding thought, glancing about the living-room and hall, noting
their betrayal of unimaginative commercial prosperity.
Kennicott said, "Dandy interior, eh? My idea of how a
place ought to be furnished. Modern." She looked polite,
and observed the oiled floors, hard-wood staircase, unused
fireplace with tiles which resembled brown linoleum, cut-glass
vases standing upon doilies, and the barred, shut, forbidding
unit bookcases that were half filled with swashbuckler novels
and unread-looking sets of Dickens, Kipling, O. Henry, and
She perceived that even personalities were failing to hold
the party. The room filled with hesitancy as with a fog.
People cleared their throats, tried to choke down yawns. The
men shot their cuffs and the women stuck their combs more
firmly into their back hair.
Then a rattle, a daring hope in every eye, the swinging of
a door, the smell of strong coffee, Dave Dyer's mewing voice
in a triumphant, "The eats!" They began to chatter. They
had something to do; They could escape from themselves.
They fell upon the food--chicken sandwiches, maple cake,
drug-store ice cream. Even when the food was gone they
remained cheerful. They could go home, any time now, and go
They went, with a flutter of coats, chiffon scarfs, and good-
Carol and Kennicott walked home.
"Did you like them?" he asked.
"They were terribly sweet to me."
"Uh, Carrie---- You ought to be more careful about
shocking folks. Talking about gold stockings, and about
showing your ankles to schoolteachers and all!" More
mildly: "You gave 'em a good time, but I'd watch out for
that, 'f I were you. Juanita Haydock is such a damn cat. I
wouldn't give her a chance to criticize me."
"My poor effort to lift up the party! Was I wrong to
try to amuse them?"
"No! No! Honey, I didn't mean---- You were the only
up-and-coming person in the bunch. I just mean---- Don't
get onto legs and all that immoral stuff. Pretty conservative
She was silent, raw with the shameful thought that the
attentive circle might have been criticizing her, laughing at
"Don't, please don't worry!" he pleaded.
"Gosh; I'm sorry I spoke about it. I just meant---- But
they were crazy about you. Sam said to me, `That little
lady of yours is the slickest thing that ever came to this
town,' he said; and Ma Dawson--I didn't hardly know
whether she'd like you or not, she's such a dried-up old bird,
but she said, `Your bride is so quick and bright, I declare,
she just wakes me up.' "
Carol liked praise, the flavor and fatness of it, but she was
so energetically being sorry for herself that she could not
taste this commendation.
"Please! Come on! Cheer up!" His lips said it, his
anxious shoulder said it, his arm about her said it, as they
halted on the obscure porch of their house.
"Do you care if they think I'm flighty, Will?"
"Me? Why, I wouldn't care if the whole world thought
you were this or that or anything else. You're my--well,
you're my soul!"
He was an undefined mass, as solid-seeming as rock. She
found his sleeve, pinched it, cried, "I'm glad! It's sweet to
be wanted! You must tolerate my frivolousness. You're all
He lifted her, carried her into the house, and with her
arms about his neck she forgot Main Street.
"WE'LL steal the whole day, and go hunting. I want you
to see the country round here," Kennicott announced at breakfast.
"I'd take the car--want you to see how swell she runs
since I put in a new piston. But we'll take a team, so we can
get right out into the fields. Not many prairie chickens left
now, but we might just happen to run onto a small covey."
He fussed over his hunting-kit. He pulled his hip boots
out to full length and examined them for holes. He feverishly
counted his shotgun shells, lecturing her on the qualities of
smokeless powder. He drew the new hammerless shotgun out
of its heavy tan leather case and made her peep through the
barrels to see how dazzlingly free they were from rust.
The world of hunting and camping-outfits and fishing-tackle
was unfamiliar to her, and in Kennicott's interest she found
something creative and joyous. She examined the smooth
stock, the carved hard rubber butt of the gun. The shells, with
their brass caps and sleek green bodies and hieroglyphics on
the wads, were cool and comfortably heavy in her hands.
Kennicott wore a brown canvas hunting-coat with vast
pockets lining the inside, corduroy trousers which bulged at
the wrinkles, peeled and scarred shoes, a scarecrow felt hat.
In this uniform he felt virile. They clumped out to the livery
buggy, they packed the kit and the box of lunch into the back,
crying to each other that it was a magnificent day.
Kennicott had borrowed Jackson Elder's red and white
English setter, a complacent dog with a waving tail of silver
hair which flickered in the sunshine. As they started, the dog
yelped, and leaped at the horses' heads, till Kennicott took
him into the buggy, where he nuzzled Carol's knees and leaned
out to sneer at farm mongrels.
The grays clattered out on the hard dirt road with a
pleasant song of hoofs: "Ta ta ta rat! Ta ta ta rat!" It
was early and fresh, the air whistling, frost bright on the
golden rod. As the sun warmed the world of stubble into a
welter of yellow they turned from the highroad, through the
bars of a farmer's gate, into a field, slowly bumping over the
uneven earth. In a hollow of the rolling prairie they lost
sight even of the country road. It was warm and placid.
Locusts trilled among the dry wheat-stalks, and brilliant little
flies hurtled across the buggy. A buzz of content filled the
air. Crows loitered and gossiped in the sky.
The dog had been let out and after a dance of excitement
he settled down to a steady quartering of the field, forth
and back, forth and back, his nose down.
"Pete Rustad owns this farm, and he told me he saw a
small covey of chickens in the west forty, last week. Maybe
we'll get some sport after all," Kennicott chuckled blissfully.
She watched the dog in suspense, breathing quickly every
time he seemed to halt. She had no desire to slaughter
birds, but she did desire to belong to Kennicott's world.
The dog stopped, on the point, a forepaw held up.
"By golly! He's hit a scent! Come on!" squealed Kennicott.
He leaped from the buggy, twisted the reins about the
whip-socket, swung her out, caught up his gun, slipped in two
shells, stalked toward the rigid dog, Carol pattering after
him. The setter crawled ahead, his tail quivering, his belly
close to the stubble. Carol was nervous. She expected clouds
of large birds to fly up instantly. Her eyes were strained with
staring. But they followed the dog for a quarter of a mile,
turning, doubling, crossing two low hills, kicking through
a swale of weeds, crawling between the strands of a barbed-
wire fence. The walking was hard on her pavement-trained
feet. The earth was lumpy, the stubble prickly and lined with
grass, thistles, abortive stumps of clover. She dragged and
She heard Kennicott gasp, "Look!" Three gray birds were
starting up from the stubble. They were round, dumpy, like
enormous bumble bees. Kennicott was sighting, moving the
barrel. She was agitated. Why didn't he fire? The birds
would be gone! Then a crash, another, and two birds turned
somersaults in the air, plumped down.
When he showed her the birds she had no sensation of blood.
These heaps of feathers were so soft and unbruised--there
was about them no hint of death. She watched her conquering
man tuck them into his inside pocket, and trudged with him
back to the buggy.
They found no more prairie chickens that morning.
At noon they drove into her first farmyard, a private village,
a white house with no porches save a low and quite dirty
stoop at the back, a crimson barn with white trimmings, a
glazed brick silo, an ex-carriage-shed, now the garage of a Ford,
an unpainted cow-stable, a chicken-house, a pig-pen, a corn-
crib, a granary, the galvanized-iron skeleton tower of a wind-
mill. The dooryard was of packed yellow clay, treeless, barren
of grass, littered with rusty plowshares and wheels of
discarded cultivators. Hardened trampled mud, like lava, filled
the pig-pen. The doors of the house were grime-rubbed, the
corners and eaves were rusted with rain, and the child who
stared at them from the kitchen window was smeary-faced.
But beyond the barn was a clump of scarlet geraniums; the
prairie breeze was sunshine in motion; the flashing metal
blades of the windmill revolved with a lively hum; a horse
neighed, a rooster crowed, martins flew in and out of the
A small spare woman with flaxen hair trotted from the
house. She was twanging a Swedish patois--not in monotone,
like English, but singing it, with a lyrical whine:
"Pete he say you kom pretty soon hunting, doctor. My,
dot's fine you kom. Is dis de bride? Ohhhh! Ve yoost say
las' night, ve hope maybe ve see her som day. My, soch a
pretty lady!" Mrs. Rustad was shining with welcome. "Vell,
vell! Ay hope you lak dis country! Von't you stay for dinner,
"No, but I wonder if you wouldn't like to give us a glass
of milk?" condescended Kennicott.
"Vell Ay should say Ay vill! You vait har a second and
Ay run on de milk-house!" She nervously hastened to a tiny
red building beside the windmill; she came back with a pitcher
of milk from which Carol filled the thermos bottle.
As they drove off Carol admired, "She's the dearest thing
I ever saw. And she adores you. You are the Lord of the
"Oh no," much pleased, "but still they do ask my advice
about things. Bully people, these Scandinavian farmers. And
prosperous, too. Helga Rustad, she's still scared of America,
but her kids will be doctors and lawyers and governors of the
state and any darn thing they want to."
"I wonder----" Carol was plunged back into last night's
Weltschmerz. "I wonder if these farmers aren't bigger than
we are? So simple and hard-working. The town lives on
them. We townies are parasites, and yet we feel superior
to them. Last night I heard Mr. Haydock talking about
`hicks.' Apparently he despises the farmers because they
haven't reached the social heights of selling thread and buttons."
"Parasites? Us? Where'd the farmers be without the
town? Who lends them money? Who--why, we supply them
"Don't you find that some of the farmers think they pay
too much for the services of the towns?"
"Oh, of course there's a lot of cranks among the farmers
same as there are among any class. Listen to some of these
kickers, a fellow'd think that the farmers ought to run the
state and the whole shooting-match--probably if they had
their way they'd fill up the legislature with a lot of farmers
in manure-covered boots--yes, and they'd come tell me I was
hired on a salary now, and couldn't fix my fees! That'd be
fine for you, wouldn't it!"
"But why shouldn't they?"
"Why? That bunch of---- Telling ME---- Oh, for heaven's sake,
let's quit arguing. All this discussing may be all right
at a party but---- Let's forget it while we're hunting."
"I know. The Wonderlust--probably it's a worse affliction
than the Wanderlust. I just wonder----"
She told herself that she had everything in the world.
And after each self-rebuke she stumbled again on "I just
They ate their sandwiches by a prairie slew: long grass
reaching up out of clear water, mossy bogs, red-winged black-
birds, the scum a splash of gold-green. Kennicott smoked a
pipe while she leaned back in the buggy and let her tired spirit
be absorbed in the Nirvana of the incomparable sky.
They lurched to the highroad and awoke from their sun-
soaked drowse at the sound of the clopping hoofs. They
paused to look for partridges in a rim of woods, little woods,
very clean and shiny and gay, silver birches and poplars
with immaculate green trunks, encircling a lake of sandy
bottom, a splashing seclusion demure in the welter of hot prairie.
Kennicott brought down a fat red squirrel and at dusk he had
a dramatic shot at a flight of ducks whirling down from the
upper air, skimming the lake, instantly vanishing.
They drove home under the sunset. Mounds of straw, and
wheat-stacks like bee-hives, stood out in startling rose and
gold, and the green-tufted stubble glistened. As the vast
girdle of crimson darkened, the fulfilled land became autumnal
in deep reds and browns. The black road before the buggy
turned to a faint lavender, then was blotted to uncertain
grayness. Cattle came in a long line up to the barred gates
of the farmyards, and over the resting land was a dark glow.
Carol had found the dignity and greatness which had failed
her in Main Street.
Till they had a maid they took noon dinner and six o'clock
supper at Mrs. Gurrey's boarding-house.
Mrs. Elisha Gurrey, relict of Deacon Gurrey the dealer in
hay and grain, was a pointed-nosed, simpering woman with
iron-gray hair drawn so tight that it resembled a soiled
handkerchief covering her head. But she was unexpectedly
cheerful, and her dining-room, with its thin tablecloth on a long
pine table, had the decency of clean bareness.
In the line of unsmiling, methodically chewing guests, like
horses at a manger, Carol came to distinguish one countenance:
the pale, long, spectacled face and sandy pompadour hair of
Mr. Raymond P. Wutherspoon, known as "Raymie," professional
bachelor, manager and one half the sales-force in the
shoe-department of the Bon Ton Store.
"You will enjoy Gopher Prairie very much, Mrs. Kennicott,"
petitioned Raymie. His eyes were like those of a dog waiting
to be let in out of the cold. He passed the stewed apricots
effusively. "There are a great many bright cultured people
here. Mrs. Wilks, the Christian Science reader, is a very
bright woman--though I am not a Scientist myself, in fact I
sing in the Episcopal choir. And Miss Sherwin of the high
school--she is such a pleasing, bright girl--I was fitting her
to a pair of tan gaiters yesterday, I declare, it really was a
"Gimme the butter, Carrie," was Kennicott's comment. She
defied him by encouraging Raymie:
"Do you have amateur dramatics and so on here?"
"Oh yes! The town's just full of talent. The Knights of
Pythias put on a dandy minstrel show last year."
"It's nice you're so enthusiastic."
"Oh, do you really think so? Lots of folks jolly me for
trying to get up shows and so on. I tell them they have more
artistic gifts than they know. Just yesterday I was saying
to Harry Haydock: if he would read poetry, like Longfellow,
or if he would join the band--I get so much pleasure out of
playing the cornet, and our band-leader, Del Snafflin, is such
a good musician, I often say he ought to give up his barbering
and become a professional musician, he could play the clarinet
in Minneapolis or New York or anywhere, but--but I couldn't
get Harry to see it at all and--I hear you and the doctor went
out hunting yesterday. Lovely country, isn't it. And did you
make some calls? The mercantile life isn't inspiring like
medicine. It must be wonderful to see how patients trust
"Huh. It's me that's got to do all the trusting. Be damn
sight more wonderful 'f they'd pay their bills," grumbled
Kennicott and, to Carol, he whispered something which
sounded like "gentleman hen."
But Raymie's pale eyes were watering at her. She helped
him with, "So you like to read poetry?"
"Oh yes, so much--though to tell the truth, I don't get much
time for reading, we're always so busy at the store and----
But we had the dandiest professional reciter at the Pythian
Sisters sociable last winter."
Carol thought she heard a grunt from the traveling salesman
at the end of the table, and Kennicott's jerking elbow was a
grunt embodied. She persisted:
"Do you get to see many plays, Mr. Wutherspoon?"
He shone at her like a dim blue March moon, and sighed,
"No, but I do love the movies. I'm a real fan. One trouble
with books is that they're not so thoroughly safeguarded by
intelligent censors as the movies are, and when you drop into
the library and take out a book you never know what you're
wasting your time on. What I like in books is a wholesome,
really improving story, and sometimes---- Why, once I started
a novel by this fellow Balzac that you read about, and it
told how a lady wasn't living with her husband, I mean she
wasn't his wife. It went into details, disgustingly! And the
English was real poor. I spoke to the library about it, and
they took it off the shelves. I'm not narrow, but I must say
I don't see any use in this deliberately dragging in immorality!
Life itself is so full of temptations that in literature one wants
only that which is pure and uplifting."
"What's the name of that Balzac yarn? Where can I get
hold of it?" giggled the traveling salesman.
Raymie ignored him. "But the movies, they are mostly
clean, and their humor---- Don't you think that the most
essential quality for a person to have is a sense of humor?"
"I don't know. I really haven't much," said Carol.
He shook his finger at her. "Now, now, you're too modest.
I'm sure we can all see that you have a perfectly corking sense
of humor. Besides, Dr. Kennicott wouldn't marry a lady that
didn't have. We all know how he loves his fun!"
"You bet. I'm a jokey old bird. Come on, Carrie; let's
beat it," remarked Kennicott.
Raymie implored, "And what is your chief artistic interest,
"Oh----" Aware that the traveling salesman had murmured,
"Dentistry," she desperately hazarded, "Architecture."
"That's a real nice art. I've always said--when Haydock &
Simons were finishing the new front on the Bon Ton building,
the old man came to me, you know, Harry's father, `D. H.,'
I always call him, and he asked me how I liked it, and I said
to him, `Look here, D. H.,' I said--you see, he was going to
leave the front plain, and I said to him, `It's all very well
to have modern lighting and a big display-space,' I said, `but
when you get that in, you want to have some architecture, too,'
I said, and he laughed and said he guessed maybe I was right,
and so he had 'em put on a cornice."
"Tin!" observed the traveling salesman.
Raymie bared his teeth like a belligerent mouse. "Well,
what if it is tin? That's not my fault. I told D. H. to make
it polished granite. You make me tired!"
"Leave us go! Come on, Carrie, leave us go!" from
Raymie waylaid them in the hall and secretly informed Carol
that she musn't mind the traveling salesman's coarseness--
he belonged to the hwa pollwa.
Kennicott chuckled, "Well, child, how about it? Do you
prefer an artistic guy like Raymie to stupid boobs like Sam
Clark and me?"
"My dear! Let's go home, and play pinochle, and laugh,
and be foolish, and slip up to bed, and sleep without dreaming.
It's beautiful to be just a solid citizeness!"
From the Gopher Prairie Weekly Dauntless:
One of the most charming affairs of the season was held Tuesday
evening at the handsome new residence of Sam and Mrs. Clark
when many of our most prominent citizens gathered to greet the
lovely new bride of our popular local physician, Dr. Will Kennicott.
All present spoke of the many charms of the bride, formerly Miss
Carol Milford of St. Paul. Games and stunts were the order of the
day, with merry talk and conversation. At a late hour dainty
refreshments were served, and the party broke up with many
expressions of pleasure at the pleasant affair. Among those present
were Mesdames Kennicott, Elder----
* * *
Dr. Will Kennicott, for the past several years one of our most
popular and skilful physicians and surgeons, gave the town a
delightful surprise when he returned from an extended honeymoon
tour in Colorado this week with his charming bride. nee Miss Carol
Milford of St. Paul, whose family are socially prominent in
Minneapolis and Mankato. Mrs. Kennicott is a lady of manifold
charms, not only of striking charm of appearance but is also a
distinguished graduate of a school in the East and has for the
past year been prominently connected in an important position of
responsibility with the St. Paul Public Library, in which city
Dr. "Will" had the good fortune to meet her. The city of
Gopher Prairie welcomes her to our midst and prophesies for her
many happy years m the energetic city of the twin lakes and
the future. The Dr. and Mrs. Kennicott will reside for the present
at the Doctor's home on Poplar Street which his charming mother
has been keeping for him who has now returned to her own home
at Lac-qui-Meurt leaving a host of friends who regret her absence
and hope to see her soon with us again.
She knew that if she was ever to effect any of the "reforms"
which she had pictured, she must have a starting-place. What
confused her during the three or four months after her marriage
was not lack of perception that she must be definite, but sheer
careless happiness of her first home.
In the pride of being a housewife she loved every detail--
the brocade armchair with the weak back, even the brass water-
cock on the hot-water reservoir, when she had become familiar
with it by trying to scour it to brilliance.
She found a maid--plump radiant Bea Sorenson from
Scandia Crossing. Bea was droll in her attempt to be at once
a respectful servant and a bosom friend. They laughed
together over the fact that the stove did not draw, over the
slipperiness of fish in the pan.
Like a child playing Grandma in a trailing skirt, Carol
paraded uptown for her marketing, crying greetings to housewives
along the way. Everybody bowed to her, strangers and
all, and made her feel that they wanted her, that she belonged
here. In city shops she was merely A Customer--a hat, a
voice to bore a harassed clerk. Here she was Mrs. Doc
Kennicott, and her preferences in grape-fruit and manners were
known and remembered and worth discussing. . . . even
if they weren't worth fulfilling.
Shopping was a delight of brisk conferences. The very
merchants whose droning she found the dullest at the two or three
parties which were given to welcome her were the pleasantest
confidants of all when they had something to talk about--
lemons or cotton voile or floor-oil. With that skip-jack Dave
Dyer, the druggist, she conducted a long mock-quarrel. She
pretended that he cheated her in the price of magazines and
candy; he pretended she was a detective from the Twin Cities.
He hid behind the prescription-counter, and when she stamped
her foot he came out wailing, "Honest, I haven't done nothing
crooked today--not yet."
She never recalled her first impression of Main Street; never
had precisely the same despair at its ugliness. By the end of
two shopping-tours everything had changed proportions. As
she never entered it, the Minniemashie House ceased to exist
for her. Clark's Hardware Store, Dyer's Drug Store, the
groceries of Ole Jenson and Frederick Ludelmeyer and Howland
& Gould, the meat markets, the notions shop--they expanded,
and hid all other structures. When she entered Mr.
Ludelmeyer's store and he wheezed, "Goot mornin', Mrs.
Kennicott. Vell, dis iss a fine day," she did not notice the
dustiness of the shelves nor the stupidity of the girl clerk;
and she did not remember the mute colloquy with him on her
first view of Main Street.
She could not find half the kinds of food she wanted, but
that made shopping more of an adventure. When she did
contrive to get sweetbreads at Dahl & Oleson's Meat Market
the triumph was so vast that she buzzed with excitement and
admired the strong wise butcher, Mr. Dahl.
She appreciated the homely ease of village life. She liked
the old men, farmers, G.A.R. veterans, who when they gossiped
sometimes squatted on their heels on the sidewalk, like
resting Indians, and reflectively spat over the curb.
She found beauty in the children.
She had suspected that her married friends exaggerated their
passion for children. But in her work in the library, children
had become individuals to her, citizens of the State with their
own rights and their own senses of humor. In the library
she had not had much time to give them, but now she knew
the luxury of stopping, gravely asking Bessie Clark whether
her doll had yet recovered from its rheumatism, and agreeing
with Oscar Martinsen that it would be Good Fun to go trapping
She touched the thought, "It would be sweet to have a
baby of my own. I do want one. Tiny---- No! Not yet!
There's so much to do. And I'm still tired from the job.
It's in my bones."
She rested at home. She listened to the village noises
common to all the world, jungle or prairie; sounds simple and
charged with magic--dogs barking, chickens making a gurgling
sound of content, children at play, a man beating a rug
wind in the cottonwood trees, a locust fiddling, a footstep on
the walk, jaunty voices of Bea and a grocer's boy in the
kitchen, a clinking anvil, a piano--not too near.
Twice a week, at least, she drove into the country with
Kennicott, to hunt ducks in lakes enameled with sunset, or to
call on patients who looked up to her as the squire's lady and
thanked her for toys and magazines. Evenings she went with
her husband to the motion pictures and was boisterously greeted
by every other couple; or, till it became too cold, they sat on
the porch, bawling to passers-by in motors, or to neighbors who
were raking the leaves. The dust became golden in the low
sun; the street was filled with the fragrance of burning leaves.
But she hazily wanted some one to whom she could say
what she thought.
On a slow afternoon when she fidgeted over sewing and
wished that the telephone would ring, Bea announced Miss
Despite Vida Sherwin's lively blue eyes, if you had looked
at her in detail you would have found her face slightly lined,
and not so much sallow as with the bloom rubbed off; you
would have found her chest flat, and her fingers rough from
needle and chalk and penholder; her blouses and plain cloth
skirts undistinguished; and her hat worn too far back,
betraying a dry forehead. But you never did look at Vida
Sherwin in detail. You couldn't. Her electric activity veiled
her. She was as energetic as a chipmunk. Her fingers
fluttered; her sympathy came out in spurts; she sat on the
edge of a chair in eagerness to be near her auditor, to send
her enthusiasms and optimism across.
She rushed into the room pouring out: "I'm afraid you'll
think the teachers have been shabby in not coming near you,
but we wanted to give you a chance to get settled. I am
Vida Sherwin, and I try to teach French and English and a
few other things in the high school."
"I've been hoping to know the teachers. You see, I was
"Oh, you needn't tell me. I know all about you! Awful
how much I know--this gossipy village. We need you so
much here. It's a dear loyal town (and isn't loyalty the finest
thing in the world!) but it's a rough diamond, and we need
you for the polishing, and we're ever so humble----" She
stopped for breath and finished her compliment with a smile.
"If I COULD help you in any way---- Would I be committing
the unpardonable sin if I whispered that I think Gopher
Prairie is a tiny bit ugly?"
"Of course it's ugly. Dreadfully! Though I'm probably
the only person in town to whom you could safely say that.
(Except perhaps Guy Pollock the lawyer--have you met him?
--oh, you MUST!--he's simply a darling--intelligence and
culture and so gentle.) But I don't care so much about the
ugliness. That will change. It's the spirit that gives me
hope. It's sound. Wholesome. But afraid. It needs live
creatures like you to awaken it. I shall slave-drive you!"
"Splendid. What shall I do? I've been wondering if it
would be possible to have a good architect come here to
"Ye-es, but don't you think it would be better to work
with existing agencies? Perhaps it will sound slow to you, but
I was thinking---- It would be lovely if we could get you to
teach Sunday School."
Carol had the empty expression of one who finds that she
has been affectionately bowing to a complete stranger. "Oh
yes. But I'm afraid I wouldn't be much good at that. My
religion is so foggy."
"I know. So is mine. I don't care a bit for dogma.
Though I do stick firmly to the belief in the fatherhood of
God and the brotherhood of man and the leadership of Jesus.
As you do, of course."
Carol looked respectable and thought about having tea.
"And that's all you need teach in Sunday School. It's
the personal influence. Then there's the library-board. You'd
be so useful on that. And of course there's our women's
study club--the Thanatopsis Club."
"Are they doing anything? Or do they read papers made
out of the Encyclopedia?"
Miss Sherwin shrugged. "Perhaps. But still, they are so
earnest. They will respond to your fresher interest. And
the Thanatopsis does do a good social work--they've made
the city plant ever so many trees, and they run the rest-room
for farmers' wives. And they do take such an interest in
refinement and culture. So--in fact, so very unique."
Carol was disappointed--by nothing very tangible. She
said politely, "I'll think them all over. I must have a while
to look around first."
Miss Sherwin darted to her, smoothed her hair, peered at
her. "Oh, my dear, don't you suppose I know? These first
tender days of marriage--they're sacred to me. Home, and
children that need you, and depend on you to keep them alive,
and turn to you with their wrinkly little smiles. And the
hearth and----" She hid her face from Carol as she made an
activity of patting the cushion of her chair, but she went on
with her former briskness:
"I mean, you must help us when you're ready. . . .
I'm afraid you'll think I'm conservative. I am! So much
to conserve. All this treasure of American ideals. Sturdiness
and democracy and opportunity. Maybe not at Palm Beach.
But, thank heaven, we're free from such social distinctions in
Gopher Prairie. I have only one good quality--overwhelming
belief in the brains and hearts of our nation, our state, our
town. It's so strong that sometimes I do have a tiny effect
on the haughty ten-thousandaires. I shake 'em up and make
'em believe in ideals--yes, in themselves. But I get into a
rut of teaching. I need young critical things like you to
punch me up. Tell me, what are you reading?"
"I've been re-reading `The Damnation of Theron Ware.'
Do you know it?"
"Yes. It was clever. But hard. Man wanted to tear
down, not build up. Cynical. Oh, I do hope I'm not a
sentimentalist. But I can't see any use in this high-art stuff
that doesn't encourage us day-laborers to plod on."
Ensued a fifteen-minute argument about the oldest topic
in the world: It's art but is it pretty? Carol tried to be
eloquent regarding honesty of observation. Miss Sherwin stood
out for sweetness and a cautious use of the uncomfortable
properties of light. At the end Carol cried:
"I don't care how much we disagree. It's a relief to have
somebody talk something besides crops. Let's make Gopher
Prairie rock to its foundations: let's have afternoon tea
instead of afternoon coffee."
The delighted Bea helped her bring out the ancestral folding
sewing-table, whose yellow and black top was scarred with
dotted lines from a dressmaker's tracing-wheel, and to set it
with an embroidered lunch-cloth, and the mauve-glazed Japanese
tea-set which she had brought from St. Paul. Miss
Sherwin confided her latest scheme--moral motion pictures for
country districts, with light from a portable dynamo hitched
to a Ford engine. Bea was twice called to fill the hot-water
pitcher and to make cinnamon toast.
When Kennicott came home at five he tried to be courtly,
as befits the husband of one who has afternoon tea. Carol
suggested that Miss Sherwin stay for supper, and that Kennicott
invite Guy Pollock, the much-praised lawyer, the poetic bachelor.
Yes, Pollock could come. Yes, he was over the grippe which
had prevented his going to Sam Clark's party.
Carol regretted her impulse. The man would be an opinionated
politician, heavily jocular about The Bride. But at the
entrance of Guy Pollock she discovered a personality. Pollock
was a man of perhaps thirty-eight, slender, still, deferential.
His voice was low. "It was very good of you to want me,"
he said, and he offered no humorous remarks, and did not
ask her if she didn't think Gopher Prairie was "the livest little
burg in the state."
She fancied that his even grayness might reveal a thousand
tints of lavender and blue and silver.
At supper he hinted his love for Sir Thomas Browne,
Thoreau, Agnes Repplier, Arthur Symons, Claude Washburn,
Charles Flandrau. He presented his idols diffidently, but he
expanded in Carol's bookishness, in Miss Sherwin's voluminous
praise, in Kennicott's tolerance of any one who amused his
Carol wondered why Guy Pollock went on digging at routine
law-cases; why he remained in Gopher Prairie. She had no
one whom she could ask. Neither Kennicott nor Vida Sherwin
would understand that there might be reasons why a Pollock
should not remain in Gopher Prairie. She enjoyed the faint
mystery. She felt triumphant and rather literary. She already
had a Group. It would be only a while now before she provided
the town with fanlights and a knowledge of Galsworthy.
She was doing things! As she served the emergency
dessert of cocoanut and sliced oranges, she cried to Pollock,
"Don't you think we ought to get up a dramatic club?"
WHEN the first dubious November snow had filtered down,
shading with white the bare clods in the plowed fields, when
the first small fire had been started in the furnace, which
is the shrine of a Gopher Prairie home, Carol began to make
the house her own. She dismissed the parlor furniture--the
golden oak table with brass knobs, the moldy brocade chairs,
the picture of "The Doctor." She went to Minneapolis, to
scamper through department stores and small Tenth Street
shops devoted to ceramics and high thought. She had to ship
her treasures, but she wanted to bring them back in her arms.
Carpenters had torn out the partition between front parlor
and back parlor, thrown it into a long room on which she
lavished yellow and deep blue; a Japanese obi with an
intricacy of gold thread on stiff ultramarine tissue, which she
hung as a panel against the maize wall; a couch with pillows of
sapphire velvet and gold bands; chairs which, in Gopher Prairie,
seemed flippant. She hid the sacred family phonograph in the
dining-room, and replaced its stand with a square cabinet on
which was a squat blue jar between yellow candles.
Kennicott decided against a fireplace. "We'll have a new
house in a couple of years, anyway."
She decorated only one room. The rest, Kennicott hinted,
she'd better leave till he "made a ten-strike."
The brown cube of a house stirred and awakened; it seemed
to be in motion; it welcomed her back from shopping; it lost
its mildewed repression.
The supreme verdict was Kennicott's "Well, by golly, I
was afraid the new junk wouldn't be so comfortable, but I
must say this divan, or whatever you call it, is a lot better
than that bumpy old sofa we had, and when I look around----
Well, it's worth all it cost, I guess."
Every one in town took an interest in the refurnishing. The
carpenters and painters who did not actually assist crossed
the lawn to peer through the windows and exclaim, "Fine!
Looks swell!" Dave Dyer at the drug store, Harry Haydock
and Raymie Wutherspoon at the Bon Ton, repeated daily,
"How's the good work coming? I hear the house is getting
to be real classy."
Even Mrs. Bogart.
Mrs. Bogart lived across the alley from the rear of Carol's
house. She was a widow, and a Prominent Baptist, and a
Good Influence. She had so painfully reared three sons to
be Christian gentlemen that one of them had become an Omaha
bartender, one a professor of Greek, and one, Cyrus N.
Bogart, a boy of fourteen who was still at home, the most
brazen member of the toughest gang in Boytown.
Mrs. Bogart was not the acid type of Good Influence. She
was the soft, damp, fat, sighing, indigestive, clinging,
melancholy, depressingly hopeful kind. There are in every large
chicken-yard a number of old and indignant hens who resemble
Mrs. Bogart, and when they are served at Sunday noon
dinner, as fricasseed chicken with thick dumplings, they keep
up the resemblance.
Carol had noted that Mrs. Bogart from her side window
kept an eye upon the house. The Kennicotts and Mrs. Bogart
did not move in the same sets--which meant precisely the same
in Gopher Prairie as it did on Fifth Avenue or in Mayfair.
But the good widow came calling.
She wheezed in, sighed, gave Carol a pulpy hand, sighed,
glanced sharply at the revelation of ankles as Carol crossed
her legs, sighed, inspected the new blue chairs, smiled with a
coy sighing sound, and gave voice:
"I've wanted to call on you so long, dearie, you know we're
neighbors, but I thought I'd wait till you got settled, you must
run in and see me, how much did that big chair cost?"
"Sev---- Sakes alive! Well, I suppose it's all right for them
that can afford it, though I do sometimes think---- Of course
as our pastor said once, at Baptist Church---- By the way, we
haven't seen you there yet, and of course your husband was
raised up a Baptist, and I do hope he won't drift away from
the fold, of course we all know there isn't anything, not
cleverness or gifts of gold or anything, that can make up for humility
and the inward grace and they can say what they want to about
the P. E. church, but of course there's no church that has more
history or has stayed by the true principles of Christianity
better than the Baptist Church and---- In what church were
you raised, Mrs. Kennicott?"
"W-why, I went to Congregational, as a girl in Mankato,
but my college was Universalist."
"Well---- But of course as the Bible says, is it the Bible,
at least I know I have heard it in church and everybody admits
it, it's proper for the little bride to take her husband's vessel
of faith, so we all hope we shall see you at the Baptist Church
and---- As I was saying, of course I agree with Reverend
Zitterel in thinking that the great trouble with this nation
today is lack of spiritual faith--so few going to church, and
people automobiling on Sunday and heaven knows what all.
But still I do think that one trouble is this terrible waste of
money, people feeling that they've got to have bath-tubs and
telephones in their houses---- I heard you were selling the
old furniture cheap."
"Well--of course you know your own mind, but I can't
help thinking, when Will's ma was down here keeping house
for him--SHE used to run in to SEE me, real OFTEN!--it was good
enough furniture for her. But there, there, I mustn't croak,
I just wanted to let you know that when you find you can't
depend on a lot of these gadding young folks like the Haydocks
and the Dyers--and heaven only knows how much money
Juanita Haydock blows in in a year--why then you may be
glad to know that slow old Aunty Bogart is always right there,
and heaven knows----" A portentous sigh. "--I HOPE you and
your husband won't have any of the troubles, with sickness and
quarreling and wasting money and all that so many of these
young couples do have and---- But I must be running along
now, dearie. It's been such a pleasure and---- Just run in
and see me any time. I hope Will is well? I thought he
looked a wee mite peaked."
It was twenty minutes later when Mrs. Bogart finally oozed
out of the front door. Carol ran back into the living-room
and jerked open the windows. "That woman has left damp
finger-prints in the air," she said.
Carol was extravagant, but at least she did not try to clear
herself of blame by going about whimpering, "I know I'm
terribly extravagant but I don't seem to be able to help it."
Kennicott had never thought of giving her an allowance.
His mother had never had one! As a wage-earning spinster
Carol had asserted to her fellow librarians that when she was
married, she was going to have an allowance and be business-
like and modern. But it was too much trouble to explain to
Kennicott's kindly stubbornness that she was a practical
housekeeper as well as a flighty playmate. She bought a budget-
plan account book and made her budgets as exact as budgets
are likely to be when they lack budgets.
For the first month it was a honeymoon jest to beg prettily,
to confess, "I haven't a cent in the house, dear," and to be
told, "You're an extravagant little rabbit." But the budget
book made her realize how inexact were her finances. She
became self-conscious; occasionally she was indignant that she
should always have to petition him for the money with which
to buy his food. She caught herself criticizing his belief that,
since his joke about trying to keep her out of the poorhouse
had once been accepted as admirable humor, it should continue
to be his daily bon mot. It was a nuisance to have to run
down the street after him because she had forgotten to ask
him for money at breakfast.
But she couldn't "hurt his feelings," she reflected. He
liked the lordliness of giving largess.
She tried to reduce the frequency of begging by opening
accounts and having the bills sent to him. She had found that
staple groceries, sugar, flour, could be most cheaply purchased
at Axel Egge's rustic general store. She said sweetly to Axel:
"I think I'd better open a charge account here."
"I don't do no business except for cash," grunted Axel.
She flared, "Do you know who I am?"
"Yuh, sure, I know. The doc is good for it. But that's
yoost a rule I made. I make low prices. I do business for
She stared at his red impassive face, and her fingers had
the undignified desire to slap him, but her reason agreed with
him. "You're quite right. You shouldn't break your rule
Her rage had not been lost. It had been transferred to
her husband. She wanted ten pounds of sugar in a hurry, but
she had no money. She ran up the stairs to Kennicott's office.
On the door was a sign advertising a headache cure and
stating, "The doctor is out, back at----" Naturally, the blank
space was not filled out. She stamped her foot. She ran
down to the drug store--the doctor's club.
As she entered she heard Mrs. Dyer demanding, "Dave,
I've got to have some money."
Carol saw that her husband was there, and two other men,
all listening in amusement.
Dave Dyer snapped, "How much do you want? Dollar be
"No, it won't! I've got to get some underclothes for the
"Why, good Lord, they got enough now to fill the closet
so I couldn't find my hunting boots, last time I wanted them."
"I don't care. They're all in rags. You got to give me
Carol perceived that Mrs. Dyer was accustomed to this
indignity. She perceived that the men, particularly Dave,
regarded it as an excellent jest. She waited--she knew what
would come--it did. Dave yelped, "Where's that ten dollars
I gave you last year?" and he looked to the other men to
laugh. They laughed.
Cold and still, Carol walked up to Kennicott and
commanded, "I want to see you upstairs."
"Why--something the matter?"
He clumped after her, up the stairs, into his barren office.
Before he could get out a query she stated:
"Yesterday, in front of a saloon, I heard a German farm-
wife beg her husband for a quarter, to get a toy for the baby--
and he refused. Just now I've heard Mrs. Dyer going through
the same humiliation. And I--I'm in the same position! I
have to beg you for money. Daily! I have just been informed
that I couldn't have any sugar because I hadn't the money
to pay for it!"
"Who said that? By God, I'll kill any----"
"Tut. It wasn't his fault. It was yours. And mine. I now
humbly beg you to give me the money with which to buy meals
for you to eat. And hereafter to remember it. The next time,
I sha'n't beg. I shall simply starve. Do you understand?
I can't go on being a slave----"
Her defiance, her enjoyment of the role, ran out. She
was sobbing against his overcoat, "How can you shame me
so?" and he was blubbering, "Dog-gone it, I meant to give
you some, and I forgot it. I swear I won't again. By golly
He pressed fifty dollars upon her, and after that he
remembered to give her money regularly. . .sometimes.
Daily she determined, "But I must have a stated amount--
be business-like. System. I must do something about it."
And daily she didn't do anything about it.
Mrs. Bogart had, by the simpering viciousness of her
comments on the new furniture, stirred Carol to economy. She
spoke judiciously to Bea about left-overs. She read the cook-
book again and, like a child with a picture-book, she studied
the diagram of the beef which gallantly continues to browse
though it is divided into cuts.
But she was a deliberate and joyous spendthrift in her
preparations for her first party, the housewarming. She made
lists on every envelope and laundry-slip in her desk. She
sent orders to Minneapolis "fancy grocers." She pinned
patterns and sewed. She was irritated when Kennicott was
jocular about "these frightful big doings that are going on."
She regarded the affair as an attack on Gopher Prairie's timidity
in pleasure. "I'll make 'em lively, if nothing else. I'll
make 'em stop regarding parties as committee-meetings."
Kennicott usually considered himself the master of the
house. At his desire, she went hunting, which was his symbol
of happiness, and she ordered porridge for breakfast, which
was his symbol of morality. But when he came home on the
afternoon before the housewarming he found himself a slave,
an intruder, a blunderer. Carol wailed, "Fix the furnace so
you won't have to touch it after supper. And for heaven's sake
take that horrible old door-mat off the porch. And put on your
nice brown and white shirt. Why did you come home so
late? Would you mind hurrying? Here it is almost suppertime,
and those fiends are just as likely as not to come at
seven instead of eight. PLEASE hurry!"
She was as unreasonable as an amateur leading woman on
a first night, and he was reduced to humility. When she came
down to supper, when she stood in the doorway, he gasped.
She was in a silver sheath, the calyx of a lily, her piled hair
like black glass; she had the fragility and costliness of a
Viennese goblet; and her eyes were intense. He was stirred
to rise from the table and to hold the chair for her; and all
through supper he ate his bread dry because he felt that she
would think him common if he said "Will you hand me the
She had reached the calmness of not caring whether her
guests liked the party or not, and a state of satisfied suspense
in regard to Bea's technique in serving, before Kennicott cried
from the bay-window in the living-room, "Here comes somebody!"
and Mr. and Mrs. Luke Dawson faltered in, at a
quarter to eight. Then in a shy avalanche arrived the entire
aristocracy of Gopher Prairie: all persons engaged in a
profession, or earning more than twenty-five hundred dollars a
year, or possessed of grandparents born in America.
Even while they were removing their overshoes they were
peeping at the new decorations. Carol saw Dave Dyer
secretively turn over the gold pillows to find a price-tag, and
heard Mr. Julius Flickerbaugh, the attorney, gasp, "Well, I'll
be switched," as he viewed the vermilion print hanging against
the Japanese obi. She was amused. But her high spirits slackened
as she beheld them form in dress parade, in a long, silent,
uneasy circle clear round the living-room. She felt that she
had been magically whisked back to her first party, at Sam
"Have I got to lift them, like so many pigs of iron? I
don't know that I can make them happy, but I'll make them
A silver flame in the darkling circle, she whirled around, drew
them with her smile, and sang, "I want my party to be noisy
and undignified! This is the christening of my house, and
I want you to help me have a bad influence on it, so that
it will be a giddy house. For me, won't you all join in an
old-fashioned square dance? And Mr. Dyer will call."
She had a record on the phonograph; Dave Dyer was capering
in the center of the floor, loose-jointed, lean, small, rusty
headed, pointed of nose, clapping his hands and shouting,
"Swing y' pardners--alamun lef!"
Even the millionaire Dawsons and Ezra Stowbody and
"Professor" George Edwin Mott danced, looking only slightly
foolish; and by rushing about the room and being coy and coaxing
to all persons over forty-five, Carol got them into a waltz
and a Virginia Reel. But when she left them to disenjoy
themselves in their own way Harry Haydock put a one-step record
on the phonograph, the younger people took the floor, and
all the elders sneaked back to their chairs, with crystallized
smiles which meant, "Don't believe I'll try this one myself,
but I do enjoy watching the youngsters dance."
Half of them were silent; half resumed the discussions of
that afternoon in the store. Ezra Stowbody hunted for something
to say, hid a yawn, and offered to Lyman Cass, the
owner of the flour-mill, "How d' you folks like the new
furnace, Lym? Huh? So."
"Oh, let them alone. Don't pester them. They must like
it, or they wouldn't do it." Carol warned herself. But they
gazed at her so expectantly when she flickered past that she
was reconvinced that in their debauches of respectability they
had lost the power of play as well as the power of impersonal
thought. Even the dancers were gradually crushed by the
invisible force of fifty perfectly pure and well-behaved and
negative minds; and they sat down, two by two. In twenty
minutes the party was again elevated to the decorum of a
"We're going to do something exciting," Carol exclaimed
to her new confidante, Vida Sherwin. She saw that in the
growing quiet her voice had carried across the room. Nat
Hicks, Ella Stowbody, and Dave Dyer were abstracted, fingers
and lips slightly moving. She knew with a cold certainty that
Dave was rehearsing his "stunt" about the Norwegian catching
the hen, Ella running over the first lines of "An Old Sweetheart
of Mine," and Nat thinking of his popular parody on Mark
"But I will not have anybody use the word `stunt' in my
house," she whispered to Miss Sherwin.
"That's good. I tell you: why not have Raymond Wutherspoon sing?"
"Raymie? Why, my dear, he's the most sentimental yearner
"See here, child! Your opinions on house-decorating are
sound, but your opinions of people are rotten! Raymie does
wag his tail. But the poor dear---- Longing for what he
calls `self-expression' and no training in anything except selling
shoes. But he can sing. And some day when he gets away
from Harry Haydock's patronage and ridicule, he'll do
Carol apologized for her superciliousness. She urged
Raymie, and warned the planners of "stunts," "We all want
you to sing, Mr. Wutherspoon. You're the only famous actor
I'm going to let appear on the stage tonight."
While Raymie blushed and admitted, "Oh, they don't want
to hear me," he was clearing his throat, pulling his clean
handkerchief farther out of his breast pocket, and thrusting his
fingers between the buttons of his vest.
In her affection for Raymie's defender, in her desire to
"discover artistic talent," Carol prepared to be delighted by the
Raymie sang "Fly as a Bird," "Thou Art My Dove," and
"When the Little Swallow Leaves Its Tiny Nest," all in a
reasonably bad offertory tenor.
Carol was shuddering with the vicarious shame which
sensitive people feel when they listen to an "elocutionist" being
humorous, or to a precocious child publicly doing badly what
no child should do at all. She wanted to laugh at the gratified
importance in Raymie's half-shut eyes; she wanted to weep
over the meek ambitiousness which clouded like an aura his
pale face, flap ears, and sandy pompadour. She tried to look
admiring, for the benefit of Miss Sherwin, that trusting
admirer of all that was or conceivably could be the good, the
true, and the beautiful.
At the end of the third ornithological lyric Miss Sherwin
roused from her attitude of inspired vision and breathed to
Carol, "My! That was sweet! Of course Raymond hasn't
an unusually good voice, but don't you think he puts such
a lot of feeling into it?"
Carol lied blackly and magnificently, but without originality:
"Oh yes, I do think he has so much FEELING!"
She saw that after the strain of listening in a cultured
manner the audience had collapsed; had given up their last hope
of being amused. She cried, "Now we're going to play an
idiotic game which I learned in Chicago. You will have to
take off your shoes, for a starter! After that you will probably
break your knees and shoulder-blades."
Much attention and incredulity. A few eyebrows indicating
a verdict that Doc Kennicott's bride was noisy and improper.
"I shall choose the most vicious, like Juanita Haydock and
myself, as the shepherds. The rest of you are wolves. Your
shoes are the sheep. The wolves go out into the hall. The
shepherds scatter the sheep through this room, then turn off
all the lights, and the wolves crawl in from the hall and in the
darkness they try to get the shoes away from the shepherds--
who are permitted to do anything except bite and use black-
jacks. The wolves chuck the captured shoes out into the hall.
No one excused! Come on! Shoes off!"
Every one looked at every one else and waited for every
one else to begin.
Carol kicked off her silver slippers, and ignored the universal
glance at her arches. The embarrassed but loyal Vida Sherwin
unbuttoned her high black shoes. Ezra Stowbody cackled,
"Well, you're a terror to old folks. You're like the gals I
used to go horseback-riding with, back in the sixties. Ain't
much accustomed to attending parties barefoot, but here goes!"
With a whoop and a gallant jerk Ezra snatched off his elastic-
sided Congress shoes.
The others giggled and followed.
When the sheep had been penned up, in the darkness the
timorous wolves crept into the living-room, squealing, halting,
thrown out of their habit of stolidity by the strangeness of
advancing through nothingness toward a waiting foe, a
mysterious foe which expanded and grew more menacing. The
wolves peered to make out landmarks, they touched gliding
arms which did not seem to be attached to a body, they
quivered with a rapture of fear. Reality had vanished. A
yelping squabble suddenly rose, then Juanita Haydock's high
titter, and Guy Pollock's astonished, "Ouch! Quit! You're
Mrs. Luke Dawson galloped backward on stiff hands and
knees into the safety of the lighted hallway, moaning, "I
declare, I nev' was so upset in my life!" But the propriety was
shaken out of her, and she delightedly continued to ejaculate
"Nev' in my LIFE" as she saw the living-room door opened
by invisible hands and shoes hurling through it, as she heard
from the darkness beyond the door a squawling, a bumping,
a resolute "Here's a lot of shoes. Come on, you wolves. Ow!
Y' would, would you!"
When Carol abruptly turned on the lights in the embattled
living-room, half of the company were sitting back against the
walls, where they had craftily remained throughout the
engagement, but in the middle of the floor Kennicott was wrestling
with Harry Haydock--their collars torn off, their hair in
their eyes; and the owlish Mr. Julius Flickerbaugh was
retreating from Juanita Haydock, and gulping with unaccustomed
laughter. Guy Pollock's discreet brown scarf hung down his
back. Young Rita Simons's net blouse had lost two buttons,
and betrayed more of her delicious plump shoulder than was
regarded as pure in Gopher Prairie. Whether by shock, disgust,
joy of combat, or physical activity, all the party were
freed from their years of social decorum. George Edwin Mott
giggled; Luke Dawson twisted his beard; Mrs. Clark insisted,
`I did too, Sam--I got a shoe--I never knew I could fight
Carol was certain that she was a great reformer.
She mercifully had combs, mirrors, brushes, needle and
thread ready. She permitted them to restore the divine
decency of buttons.
The grinning Bea brought down-stairs a pile of soft thick
sheets of paper with designs of lotos blossoms, dragons, apes,
in cobalt and crimson and gray, and patterns of purple
birds flying among sea-green trees in the valleys of Nowhere.
"These," Carol announced, "are real Chinese masquerade
costumes. I got them from an importing shop in Minneapolis.
You are to put them on over your clothes, and please forget
that you are Minnesotans, and turn into mandarins and coolies and--
and samurai (isn't it?), and anything else you can think of."
While they were shyly rustling the paper costumes she
disappeared. Ten minutes after she gazed down from the stairs
upon grotesquely ruddy Yankee heads above Oriental robes,
and cried to them, "The Princess Winky Poo salutes her
As they looked up she caught their suspense of admiration.
They saw an airy figure in trousers and coat of green brocade
edged with gold; a high gold collar under a proud chin; black
hair pierced with jade pins; a languid peacock fan in an out-
stretched hand; eyes uplifted to a vision of pagoda towers.
When she dropped her pose and smiled down she discovered
Kennicott apoplectic with domestic pride--and gray Guy Pollock
staring beseechingly. For a second she saw nothing in
all the pink and brown mass of their faces save the hunger
of the two men.
She shook off the spell and ran down. "We're going to
have a real Chinese concert. Messrs. Pollock, Kennicott, and,
well, Stowbody are drummers; the rest of us sing and play the
The fifes were combs with tissue paper; the drums were
tabourets and the sewing-table. Loren Wheeler, editor of the
Dauntless, led the orchestra, with a ruler and a totally
inaccurate sense of rhythm. The music was a reminiscence of
tom-toms heard at circus fortune-telling tents or at the
Minnesota State Fair, but the whole company pounded and puffed
and whined in a sing-song, and looked rapturous.
Before they were quite tired of the concert Carol led them
in a dancing procession to the dining-room, to blue bowls of
chow mein, with Lichee nuts and ginger preserved in syrup.
None of them save that city-rounder Harry Haydock had
heard of any Chinese dish except chop sooey. With agreeable
doubt they ventured through the bamboo shoots into the
golden fried noodles of the chow mein; and Dave Dyer did
a not very humorous Chinese dance with Nat Hicks; and
there was hubbub and contentment.
Carol relaxed, and found that she was shockingly tired. She
had carried them on her thin shoulders. She could not keep
it up. She longed for her father, that artist at creating
hysterical parties. She thought of smoking a cigarette, to shock
them, and dismissed the obscene thought before it was quite
formed. She wondered whether they could for five minutes
be coaxed to talk about something besides the winter top of
Knute Stamquist's Ford, and what Al Tingley had said about
his mother-in-law. She sighed, "Oh, let 'em alone. I've
done enough." She crossed her trousered legs, and snuggled
luxuriously above her saucer of ginger; she caught Pollock's
congratulatory still smile, and thought well of herself for having
thrown a rose light on the pallid lawyer; repented the heretical
supposition that any male save her husband existed; jumped
up to find Kennicott and whisper, "Happy, my lord? . . .
No, it didn't cost much!"
"Best party this town ever saw. Only---- Don't cross your
legs in that costume. Shows your knees too plain."
She was vexed. She resented his clumsiness. She returned
to Guy Pollock and talked of Chinese religions--not that she
knew anything whatever about Chinese religions, but he had
read a book on the subject as, on lonely evenings in his office,
he had read at least one book on every subject in the world.
Guy's thin maturity was changing in her vision to flushed youth
and they were roaming an island in the yellow sea of chatter
when she realized that the guests were beginning that cough
which indicated, in the universal instinctive language, that
they desired to go home and go to bed.
While they asserted that it had been "the nicest party
they'd ever seen--my! so clever and original," she smiled
tremendously, shook hands, and cried many suitable things
regarding children, and being sure to wrap up warmly, and
Raymie's singing and Juanita Haydock's prowess at games.
Then she turned wearily to Kennicott in a house filled with
quiet and crumbs and shreds of Chinese costumes.
He was gurgling, "I tell you, Carrie, you certainly are a
wonder, and guess you're right about waking folks up. Now
you've showed 'em how, they won't go on having the same old
kind of parties and stunts and everything. Here! Don't touch
a thing! Done enough. Pop up to bed, and I'll clear up."
His wise surgeon's-hands stroked her shoulder, and her
irritation at his clumsiness was lost in his strength.
From the Weekly Dauntless:
One of the most delightful social events of recent months was
held Wednesday evening in the housewarming of Dr. and Mrs.
Kennicott, who have completely redecorated their charming home
on Poplar Street, and is now extremely nifty in modern color
scheme. The doctor and his bride were at home to their numerous
friends and a number of novelties in diversions were held, including
a Chinese orchestra in original and genuine Oriental costumes, of
which Ye Editor was leader. Dainty refreshments were served
in true Oriental style, and one and all voted a delightful time.
The week after, the Chet Dashaways gave a party. The
circle of mourners kept its place all evening, and Dave Dyer
did the "stunt" of the Norwegian and the hen.
GOPHER PRAIRIE was digging in for the winter. Through late
November and all December it snowed daily; the thermometer
was at zero and might drop to twenty below, or thirty. Winter
is not a season in the North Middlewest; it is an industry.
Storm sheds were erected at every door. In every block the
householders, Sam Clark, the wealthy Mr. Dawson, all save
asthmatic Ezra Stowbody who extravagantly hired a boy, were
seen perilously staggering up ladders, carrying storm windows